5 things to consider when choosing a health plan this fall

Co-insurance. High deductibles. Medical spending accounts. Choosing a health plan that’s right for you and your family can be confusing and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. Consider these five tips when choosing your health plan this fall.

1. Does the health plan have the doctors, hospitals, and specialists you use?

More and more health plans are limiting provider networks in order to keep costs low. If you want to stay with your current doctor or clinic, you’ll want to check out the provider networks for the plan you’re interested in to be sure you won’t be faced with out of network charges or higher co-pays.

 2Does anyone in your family have special health needs?

If you or someone in your family has ongoing health needs or chronic conditions, you’ll want to carefully consider your out of pocket maximums and deductible amounts. Your deductible is the amount you’ll pay before any of the plan coverage kicks in. With ongoing medical costs, you may want to consider a lower deductible, knowing you’ll likely reach it right away. But lower deductibles tend to go with higher out of pocket maximums, so you’ll continue to pay a co-insurance until you reach your out of pocket max. For younger, healthier individuals, a high deductible plan might not be a bad option to consider.

 3. Consider available health savings options

In order to help defray the cost of your deductible, consider participating in a medical spending or health savings account. These tax-advantaged accounts can be used to pay for your deductible, co-pays, prescriptions and a number of other costs. To help you determine how much to contribute to a medical spending or health savings account, take a look at your medical expenses for previous years and make an estimate of what you think you’ll spend next year. Are you planning an elective surgery? Will you or a spouse have a baby in the next year? Remember, you can only plan so much. The unexpected can always happen too so it’s nice to have some money set aside for the unanticipated broken arm or antibiotic.

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 4. Look at the prescription benefit coverage

Don’t forget about this important detail. If you know you have certain medications you’ll be taking, be sure to check out the pharmacy coverage and know what your deductibles and co-pays will be. Also, be sure to use a pharmacy that’s in your network and try to go with generics whenever you can.

 

5. Notice any extra services the plan provides

Choosing a health plan with some enhanced benefits can go a long way towards helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find out if the health plan offers any extra wellness services, a nurseline, or discounts on health club fees.  Then take advantage of these special programs or offers and work towards your own personal health improvement plan.

What you need to know about Enterovirus D68

Parents and doctors around the country are being alerted to an increase in respiratory illness among children due to an outbreak of a serious virus.  The virus strain is called Enterovirus D68 and has sent dozens of children in Chicago and Kansas City to the hospital.

The D68 strain of enterovirus can cause severe respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing. This virus is really not rare; it commonly affects the GI tract and sometimes causes what is, for all intents and purposes, a severe cold. It is not a shock that this is cropping up now:  after all, we’re one week into the school season and that’s a pretty normal way for viruses to spread.

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Symptoms to look for

The Minnesota Department of Health says the symptoms linked to clusters of the enterovirus D68 are all upper respiratory problems. The symptoms are that of a common cold: sneezing, runny nose, feeling crummy, occasional fever, wheezing, shortness of breath and asthmatic symptoms. Infants, children and teenagers are most often affected. It typically runs its course in about a week.

As it is a virus, there is no specific treatment for this illness. Doctors and parents can only provide treatment for relief of symptoms.

When to call a doctor

If your child begins to wheeze or has any difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention. Also seek care from your doctor if symptoms are accompanied by a fever.

How it spreads

The virus spreads through saliva and mucous during coughing and sneezing. Touching infected surfaces and then touching your face, eyes or mouth can also spread the disease, making hand washing even more important.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soapy water and disinfect toys, doorknobs and other surfaces that might harbor the virus. Avoid kissing, hugging, sharing items with sick people and stay home if you feel sick.

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Steve Meisel, Pharm.D., CPPS, Director of Patient Safety , Fairview Health Services

How Communication Shaped The Weavers’ Experience

In a crisis situation, people crave two things: expertise and real-time information. Fortunately for Rebecca and Gene Weaver, their care teams delivered both.

"We will always go back to Fairview," says Rebecca Weaver, with husband, Gene, and new daughter, Lydia, who received care from their Fairview and UMN Health care teams at Fairview Southdale Hospital.

“We will always go back to Fairview,” says Rebecca Weaver, with husband, Gene, and new daughter, Lydia, who received care from their Fairview and UMN Health care teams at Fairview Southdale Hospital

When their daughter, Lydia, was having serious problems after she was born at Fairview Southdale Hospital, their Fairview and University of Minnesota Health care teams sprang into action and, just as important to the Weavers, kept them in the know every step of the way.

“Given the fact that it was a very scary entry, the staff did everything right,” says Sharon Nolan, Rebecca’s mother and an RN at Fairview Clinics – Edina.

“I am just so proud of them. They followed the Fairview values to a T— to a T. I’m proud to be a Fairview nurse.”

UMN Health provides specialty mothers’ and children’s care across the system.

When things went wrong, communication was key

During an uneventful first pregnancy, Rebecca and Gene, were looking forward to becoming parents.

When her water broke Aug. 8, Rebecca came to Fairview Southdale as planned. The delivery went well, though Rebecca spiked a fever and was on antibiotics for Group Strep B, a mostly harmless bacterial infection in adults that can occasionally cause complications in newborns.

But when little Lydia was born and placed on Rebecca’s chest, it became clear that something was horribly wrong.

“She was completely unresponsive,” Rebecca says. “They immediately cut the cord, took my baby and flew into action.”

Despite her worry and confusion, Rebecca says she was confident in the specialty care delivered by the UMN Health care team, mainly because they were open and honest.

“I said, ‘Is she going to be OK? She’s not crying.’

“I loved the fact that they didn’t say, ‘Oh, it’ll be fine,’” Rebecca says. “The NICU doctor said, ‘She’s running a fever. She has fluid in her lungs. She’s very sick, and we’re not sure of everything that’s going on, but we’re going to do everything we can. The next hour is critical.’ They were honest—I knew what they knew.”

Still running a fever, Rebecca was not allowed to follow Lydia to the NICU, but Gene was. After about an hour, he returned to give Rebecca a report.

“He told me they were giving him updates while working on Lydia,” Rebecca says. “He was able to come back and tell me everything. He didn’t just say, ‘This is what I saw.’ He knew exactly what she was diagnosed with, what was wrong.”

Rebecca with Lydia Weaver

Rebecca with Lydia Weaver

From patient to parent, the amazing care continued

Rebecca added that everyone she encountered at the hospital made her feel like she was an important part of the team.

“The next morning, I was getting ready to go down to the NICU,” she says. “The head doctor of the NICU came up to my floor, knocked on my door and said, ‘I want to talk to you about everything that’s happened, is going on now and where we go from here.’

“He had already given that report to my husband, who was in the NICU while I was getting ready, but the doctor wanted to keep me informed, too, and made a special trip to tell me what we needed to do going forward. I was so impressed by that!”

Her exceptional patient experience didn’t end when Rebecca was no longer a patient: When she was discharged from the hospital Aug. 10, Rebecca and Gene were given a warm welcome in the NICU, where they both stayed by Lydia’s side for several more days.

When Lydia was discharged, “They loaded us in the car and said, ‘Please send us Christmas cards!’ They were our family,” Rebecca says.

“When we got home, there was already a card waiting in the mail, signed by those nurses who took care of me, and each one wrote a little message. It was so wonderful.”

For the Weavers (and Sharon), a scary situation was made better by open, honest communication and a personal connection with the doctors, nurses and hospital staff.

“Even if Rebecca and Lydia were receiving the best physical care, if Rebecca and Gene weren’t being informed, it would’ve been a completely different experience,” Sharon says.

“You can receive wonderful medical care, but there is the other element of communication—it helped Rebecca recover better than she would have, both physically and emotionally.

“They were all so professional and supremely qualified—my daughter is proof,” Rebecca says. “We will always go back to Fairview.”

Each Job, Every day – Medical Librarians

Francis Bacon (and those old “Schoolhouse Rock” cartoons) asserted that, “knowledge is power.”

Janet Erdman and Tom Schlagel

It’s a belief held dear by Fairview’s medical library team. And, if it’s true, makes them some of the most powerful people in the organization.

“Knowledge is essential to informed decisions, whether it’s regarding medical care or corporate choices,” says Kolleen Olsen, medical library manager. “We promote access to that information to facilitate, inform and connect.”

Fairview’s medical library team is small but mighty: Alongside Kolleen, three librarians serve the research needs of the entire organization from three locations (Fairview Southdale and Fairview Ridges hospitals and University of Minnesota Medical Center).

Their mission is to find answers to questions, no matter who asks them: doctors, nurses, other health care works, administrators—even patients and their families.

Last year, these four individuals completed more than 1,500 literature searches, retrieved nearly 13,500 articles for Fairview physicians and employees and answered 7,894 general reference questions.

What they do

Literature searches are perhaps their most well-known function: Librarians scour countless databases, journals and books for research papers and published articles on virtually any topic, from surgical practices to improving employee engagement.

Librarians Brett Demars and Janet Erdman not only fulfill typical medical librarian duties, but also focus on maintaining and updating Fairview’s electronic library resources. This includes creating or updating library intranet pages, insuring the online resources are working properly, helping employees resolve technical issues they may have while accessing library resources, linking library resources together and general problem-solving.

“Our library page is a one-stop shop,” Janet says. “There are dozens of electronic resources, everything from medical databases to drug databases to business databases to nursing dictionaries, books and journals—and they get thousands of hits each month from Fairview employees.”

Librarian Mary Carlson specializes in consumer research – i.e. helping patients and families locate answers to health care-related questions.

Another big part of the role is training. Librarians provide frequent educational sessions to groups or individuals wishing to better facilitate their own learning. In 2013, Fairview’s medical library team trained nearly 2,100 staff and physicians on how to access library resources.

Why they do it

Medical librarians must possess a deep natural curiosity, perseverance and the ability to work well with many different types of people. They should be comfortable never knowing what each day will bring and, above all, they must have a hunger for knowledge.

Medical Library team members say they’re proud of their role in helping Fairview fulfilling its mission of improving the health of the communities they serve.

“Successful literature searches are rewarding because they all lead back, in one way or another, to helping Fairview’s patients,” Brett says.

“Every day, I’m amazed of the caliber of people we have at Fairview,” Janet says. “They know their fields really well, and they’re coming to me to be sure they’re doing the right thing or to find a little more evidence. I’m amazed at how brilliant they are. There are some really dedicated people around here.”

 

5 tips to ace your interview

Like most things, the harder you work at something the better you become. The more time you spend preparing for a job interview, the better you will perform. These top interview tips cover everything you need to know to have a successful job interview.

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1. Be on Time! Although this appears obvious, you’d be surprised how many candidates show up late for an interview. It is not uncommon for interviewers to terminate the interview on the spot or to politely cut it short if the interviewee is late.

Do the following:

  1. Make a dry run a day or two before the interview to the location noting road construction or parking issues. Make sure to give yourself extra time to find where the interview will be held inside the building.
  2. Arrive no more than 10 minutes early to the interview room.

2. Familiarize yourself with the details about the organization and position.
Make sure to research the company before the interview. You should be able to find information on the company’s website.

Do the following:

  1. Learn about the company’s products and services: What do they do? Who do they serve? Who is their primary customer base?
  2. Take careful note of the values, mission statement and culture of the organization.
  3. Read success stories and understand what challenges they may face.

3. Bring proper materials. Be sure to provide all documentation that is requested. Put these documents in a professional folder.

Bring the following:

  1. References, usually 4-6 professional references are adequate. Get permission from your references first. Provide each reference’s name, title, place of employment, address and phone number.
  2. Extra copies of your resume.
  3. Drivers license, Social Security number, passport or some other form of ID.
  4. Cash! You never know if the parking ramp will be full; small surface lots often only take cash.

4. Practice verbalizing answers to possible interview questions. Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. Never walk into an interview without first practicing your answers aloud.

Do:

  1. Practice answering traditional and behavioral-based questions.
  2. Work with someone who can give you honest feedback.
  3. Record your answers, noting idioms and slang that may not paint you in the best light.
  4. Video yourself; pay attention to your body posture and hand gestures.

5. Conduct a comprehensive review your qualifications, transferable skills, strengths, values and competencies. Be able to give examples and tell stories.

Know:

  1. The core competencies of the position and how you can fulfill them.
  2. What makes you stand out from the crowd—what makes you unique.

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Learn more about working at Fairview Health Services and apply today: http://www.fairview.org/careers

For more than 100 years, Fairview has been meeting community needs and achieving breakthrough medical advances in care. We are committed to delivering great value for our patients—higher quality, better experience and lower cost. Fairview has six hospitals and more than 90 primary and specialty care clinics throughout the state. 

In partnership with the University of Minnesota, Fairview is an academic health system committed to nation-leading research and educating tomorrow’s physicians and health care professionals. We serve patients from across the state of Minnesota, the upper Midwest and beyond. 

http://www.fairview.org